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About rationalization and intellectualization

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Within the framework of Freud's understanding of defence, I focus on the question of whether rationalization and intellectualization should be regarded as separate mechanisms of defense. It is argued that both of these mechanisms represent a specific handling of specific substitutive formations that are produced by other mechanisms of defense. Rationalization refers to the usage of substitutive formations as a reason for action. In the guise of these ego-syntonic and socially approved substitutive motives, the original motives are hidden and appear encrypted in consciousness. Intellectualization denotes the specific handling of the outcome of a process in which instinctual wishes are isolated from their accompanying feelings, and, by virtue of further mechanisms of defense, these wishes are transferred in highly abstract substitutive formations where they also represent themselves in a mystified manner.
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Keywords: defense; intellectualization; rationalization; substitutive formation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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